As an ADHD coach I work with adults and college students affected by ADHD. I have noticed that both populations feel shame regarding ADHD.
ADHD can be a life long struggle. Throughout life you hear negative messages from people and from yourself about your ability to get things done and to stay on task. Some years ago my mother found notes from my teachers when I was in elementary school. All the notes said basically the same thing – if only I would apply myself I could do the work and that I wasn’t fulfilling my potential. Although I didn’t see the notes I certainly got the message when I was a child that I was letting people down and that if only I tried harder everything would be better. My conclusion – I must be stupid and lazy.
Those messages don’t just end in childhood. Even as adults we are constantly bombarded with negative messages. We are aware that our actions or lack of action disappoints and frustrates others. It makes sense. When you are at work and you don’t do your part in a timely manner it can adversely affect others and their work. This can definitely be frustrating for everyone.
There is no perfect solution. But one needs to be aware of the feeling of shame in order to avoid reacting to it by withdrawing from others, seeking to be perfect or giving up altogether. These are not solutions. They are avoidance. And giving up gets you nowhere.
The way to deal with shame is to meet it head on and get support. That support can come from family, friends, therapists and coaches. You can also join groups like ADDA and CHADD. Both are organizations that provide information and support for people affected by ADHD. You need some people in your corner who understand what ADHD is and what it means to live with it. For each person with ADHD helpful support can mean different things. For example nagging someone to get something done tends to shut down many affected by ADHD. But an offer to sit with the person while they work on the task can be helpful.
You want support from people who want to see you achieve willing to have you tell them what behaviors are helpful and what behaviors are not. If you feel overwhelming shame it is difficult to ask for help but it is vital. Building a support network around you can help you live a life that is satisfying. Of course it won’t be perfect but perfection can be boring. It will still be a hard life but less hard for you if you can accept who you are and let go of dwelling in the land of shame.